Smart Voters Mean Better Government

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Pennsylvania’s primary elections are just weeks away. It’s an off-year nationally, nonetheless, important state constitutional initiatives and some local races will appear on primary ballots. The parties are engaged. Voters should be.

Many Americans consider the control the major parties exert over the process of government to be one of the more repellent features of state and national politics. Rather than advancing candidates who are primarily and firmly committed to representing the people in their districts and states, party brokers generally seek out and support candidates who are faithful to/controllable by the party. The result is a two-tier system of loyalties that sometimes elbows out the people’s interests.

That’s especially true in the bitterly partisan worlds of Harrisburg and Washington where the battle lines are sharply drawn, scores meticulously kept, and the parties attempt to “manage” their affiliated politicians. Democrats control theirs mercilessly.

Those rare officeholders and office-seekers who possess the principles and spine to simply do the right thing can be kicked to the curb when the right thing is contrary to their party’s perceived immediate interests. A perfect example of the phenomenon is the resistance “outsider” President Donald Trump received from establishment Republicans.

Analyst Jay Cost defines a political party as “an extra-governmental conspiracy to control the government,” a centralizing force “trying to unite all governmental power under the party banner.” The “shared belief among the conspirators that their interests are linked … is really the only glue that binds a political party together. American party structures are very weak; partisans participate in the ‘conspiracy’ only if they believe it will help them in the long run.”

Though Democrat and Republican Party establishments’ instincts and interests remain unchanged – in fact, many are shared – both parties are currently under extraordinary pressure, Democrats primarily from anti-American globalists who seek to coopt/cede American sovereignty, and radicals in the party’s base who reject constitutional norms.

Republicans receive pressure from globalists, too, but, more importantly, from amorphous groups of constitutionalists, populists and nationalists who seek to preserve the republic, all of whom have tremendous energy, despite constant negative coverage from left-wing media.

These un- and loosely-affiliated groups include most Republicans, significant numbers of independents and some traditional Democrats. Last November, more minorities moved into the categories, many for the first time, because President Trump’s policies and four years of peace and prosperity improved their lives.

If Democrats want them back, the party must abandon its radical socialist agenda, presently an unlikely choice.

But, if independents and more-conservative Democrats, including minorities, who favor populist/nationalist policies ever come to the Republican Party, they will be delivered by principled, independent Republicans who speak their language and earn their trust.

The GOP needs these voters, especially in Pennsylvania where Democrats enjoy a registration advantage. The odds of Republicans capturing their votes also depend on the party’s choices.

Many/most populist/nationalist voters often break ranks with both traditional parties for what they correctly perceive to be business as usual. Democrats’ radical overreach is helpful, but, if Republicans want their votes consistently, the party must embrace the successful policies that attracted them in 2020. Although an unlikely 2024 candidate, Mr. Trump left a policy legacy that is validated almost daily by his successor’s failures.

Even though candidates attractive to populist/nationalist voters are sometimes too independent for party establishmentarians’ tastes, if it wants to win general elections, the GOP must make these energized people more trustful of Republicans.

Smart Republicans can channel the energy of populist/nationalist voters by jettisoning the happy talk, embracing their causes, sharing their objectives, and relinquishing some traditional prerogatives such as candidate endorsements in primary elections.

In picking candidates to fill open seats or challenge vulnerable incumbent Democrats, the GOP should trust voters to select the candidates who best serve their interests in open primaries.

However, if the party persists in advancing its own slate, then, in order to prevent diluting the vote in favor of less-deserving establishment favorites in crowded fields, voters must vet the candidates, their financial backers, and then focus on the best, most desirable people. To be fair, though, sometimes party favorites might be the better choice.

The bottom line is that voters must become a lot smarter about elections. Dig in. Think things through. Don’t rely on biased media.

It’s in your hands on May 18, people. Get informed. Then vote.